Choosing curriculum — minimalist style

Choosing curriculum is a very personal decision.

This year's curriculum
Homeschooling Bookshelf . . .this year’s curriculum.

What is right for one family is not the right for another.  Choosing curriculum can become a stressful topic between parents and homeschooling friends.  Yet simplifying the amount of curriculum that comes into the house at the ordering stage can immensely cut down on the amount of clutter on the bookshelves.

  • child’s learning style
  • parent’s background in the subject
  • amount of prep time for the subject

Child’s learning style

One child may need a very hand’s on math curriculum and another needs visual instruction that a video or direct instruction will support.  Some children need very systematic approach to the subject, and other students need to be random and cover the topics in the order that connects for them.  Lastly, some children or some children in some subjects, need an organized approach with one subject at a time with consistency, and another child (or in a different subject) may prefer a unit study approach that interconnects their subjects together.

Parent’s background

For myself, there are some topics I love to teach and others that I need an incredible curriculum to bring the topic alive.  Some years there have been topics that I was needing to learn right along side my children.  And some places, I just needed to hand my kids over to another instructor and let go of the teaching.  (This happens more and more as they get older.  The shift of at-home schooling and in-community instruction shifts in high school.)

Time Limitations

Time limitations are also to be considered–how much prep, correction, and instruction time do you have for the subject?  Not every subject needs to be equal.  Some points in our homeschooling journey I would spend hours gathering and researching for a unit.  Probably the same amount of time I put towards teaching a class of twelve as I did for a class of two.  Other subjects like spelling tended to be straight out of the curriculum that we chose.  (Spelling ended up being the hardest curriculum search.  We have one child that no spelling rules made sense, phonics was a mystery.  In the end we used a traditional workbook, pulled out words from her writing, and invested in the All About Spelling program when it was just coming out.  This was a full sensory approach with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic lessons and it clicked for her.)

Wrap Up

I love the humanities; languages, history, literature, music, and the arts.  Science I enjoy, but I cannot answer the questions to the level that I want my children to hear.  I also want them inspired by the WOW of science and not see it as a workbook exercise.  Math is easy, and each kid needed a different approach, as well as slight adaptations over the years.  Sticking with the same curriculum series started to drive both kids crazy at 5th grade.  We spiced it up by taking a break and inserting other resources and wrapped up the program for pre-algebra.  (It may have also been that there was less involvement in the later years and they wanted more teacher/mom — student interaction.)

Keep it simple.  Find the right curriuculum, so that you are not wasting money on stacks of unused workbooks.  Keep the shelves pared down.  The right match works for your family and your child.


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